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Restaurants & Bars 6

Two Lunches Not At the Same Time

NAspy | Jun 15, 200506:48 PM

It's 3 PM and I'm still very full from lunch at New Concept today. Finally made it there with coworkers after weeks of planning -- when we arrived, we noted with some alarm that the place had been given a "C" rating, but seeing the dining room to be essentially full (though there were no lines as had been feared -- we were seated immediately), we decided to proceed with our plan.

We took along recent suggestions from this board and found them all excellent -- they do bring a few dishes by, one of which was heavy noodles in sauce contained in a waffle dish, which was an excellent starter. The napkins are enclosed in little plastic envelopes which seemed to be the true New Concept -- that, in addition to ordering off a menu.

We ordered two of everything: BBQ pork ribs(though we did not get black bean sauce with it, it was topped with some hot peppers, and while excessively fatty, were very tasty); shrimp har gow (this came very late, as we were ready to leave, but decided to remind them of our order) which was piping hot and fresh tasting shrimp (no vinegar served with it though); chiu-chow dumplings that seemed to contain only meat, no vegetables, but we really liked the rice cake cover, which was sweet and chewy; pork bao, also very fresh; steamed chinese brocolli with oyster sauce on the side which was fantastic (I preferred it w/o the sauce); we had a couple of dumplings that I can't identify by name, as one of our party is Cantonese and she did the ordering, more or less by feel -- but one of them was a very interesting mixture of vegetables, some hot peppers and peanuts in a crescent shaped dumpling-- the covering actually made this dish taste blander than it really was; if you picked it apart and ate its various constituent parts in little pieces with small portions of the dumpling, you were treated to a much better flavor experience.
The main difference between New Concept (and I am by no means a dim sum expert though we eat a great deal of it, working in Monterey Park) and say, NBC Seafood, other than the cute napkin envelopes is that the dishes are made to order and taste so much fresher than the stuff rolling around on the carts. Total of a lot of food for 5 people with tax and tip == $55.00

Last week had lunch at CIRO's, a Mexican place in Boyle Heights, across and a bit down the street from the much better known Manny's El Tepeyac. They are both on Evergreen Street, off City Terrace, but a more precise address I don't have. This was some of the best Mexican I've ever had, starting with the amazing avocado salsa, which consists of large chunks of avocado in a scintillating tomato and onion marinate. Home made chips. You could eat just that for lunch and be happy. I had enchiladas (you get 3 for $7 and it comes with generous portions of rice, beans, sour cream and guacamole)-- one each of chicken, beef and cheese, the latter two being standouts. Friend had the carnitas tostada which was HUGE, piled with chunks of pork, which was quite fatty, but tasted just fantastic. Part of the great experience is the fact that Ciro's, like El Tepeyac, is just sitting in the middle of a working class residential area -- reminded me of times when I would go exploring off the beaten path in various places and happen upon hidden gems stuck between houses or apartment buildings. A real Chowhound experience. Lunch for two =$15.

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